The Pick: Jazz 97-92
These teams have combined for just one win in 12 games and have two of the four worst point differentials in all of basketball, but to my knowledge, someone has to win tonight.
The Jazz have plenty of youth as their top four scorers (Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors) average just 22 years of age, giving me hope that we can see spurts of better basketball as the season wears on. Young players tend to be more comfortable when playing in front of their home crowd, and Utah is no exception. They won more quarters than they lost against the Oklahoma City Thunder and led going into the fourth quarters against the Houston Rockets.
I love the progression I have seen from Hayward over his three-plus years in the league as his scoring is up in a big way, but so is his rebounding and assisting. He is slowly developing a well-rounded game that should give a defensively inept Nuggets team all sorts of problems.
Speaking of defensive issues, Denver has lost JaVale McGee (fractured leg) for the foreseeable future, and while he wasn’t playing great this season, he was averaging 4.2 blocks per 48 minutes — a greater rate than Al Horford, who ranks third in the league in blocked shots. That’s a big deal for a team that struggles to keep their opponents out of the paint.
When Denver has the ball, they rely heavily on the scoring ability of their point guards. Between Ty Lawson (22.6 points per game), Nate Robinson (9.6) and Andre Miller (8.2), the Nuggets’ PGs are scoring 40.4 points on a nightly basis, over 41 percent of the team’s total points. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem when an offense relies on their floor general in this fashion, but the Jazz have excelled at limiting the scoring output of opposing point guards.
In fact, they’ve yet to allow over 22 points to a single set of PGs this season, giving up an average of 16.6 points to point guards. Even if the Nuggets manage to score twice that average, the fact that they count on 41 percent of their points coming from their point guards makes me think that they will struggle to approach their below average 98.4 points per game.
My picks have been on fire of late, does it continue into tonight?